Tove Lo has been a silent force in pop music for years. The Swedish star expresses her candor through her self–reflective lyrics and her escapism through club–ready beats, giving pop music the breath of fresh air it sorely needs.
With Dirt Femme, she has complete creative control for the first time. Released under her newly–created label, Pretty Swede, the album plays to Lo's strengths while ensuring that dance music remains the centerpiece. Upon this release, the world can finally see her creative vision at its peak and—more importantly—her true self.
The glossy second single “No One Dies From Love” kicks off the album with a slick and sexy sound. Pairing a vocoder with hard–hitting synths, Lo asks an ex–lover, “will [they] remember us / or are the memories too stained with blood now?” She amplifies this juxtaposition with a throbbing bass line that enters in the second verse, where Lo declares that she’ll “be the first” to die from love.
“Suburbia” continues the synthwave soundscape Love aimed to create, taking on a groovy '80s sound. Rather than living in nostalgia, however, the singer is firm in her stance against the white picket fences of suburbia. She chants, “I can't be no Stepford wife.” This song is her rebellion and her mantra in a society full of expectations for women.
Tove’s collaborations with SG Lewis are the album’s highlights. She has always been candid with her sexuality, but “Call On Me” and “Pineapple Slice” tell the listeners that despite her marriage, she's confident in her femininity and womanhood. The former's piercing synths and the latter's dirty bass line are just the cherry on top.
As brilliant as Dirt Femme is, the listening experience is sporadically interrupted by songs that don’t quite belong. Inspired by Bonnie and Clyde, “True Romance” showcases Lo’s sincerity with her love in ballad form. “We are meant to be, I'd die for love and loyalty” she belts with a heart–aching tremor. Yet, its placement in the tracklist leaves something to be desired, disrupting the flow of the previous three dance–heavy songs.
A similar issue plagues “I’m to Blame,” which is exquisite on its own. Emulating a Taylor Swift country-pop song, an acoustic guitar dominates the track, complimenting the lyrics “Feelings change, winter comes / Now your heart's colder than stone.” Yet, the tonal change is too drastic for a dance—focused album. Perhaps this song was a way for Tove Lo to create an auditory breather, but the execution misses the mark.
In an industry filled with expectations, Lo is defiantly her own from start to finish in Dirt Femme. Not only has she remained consistent with her voice, but she has fine–tuned her craft, adding new experimentations and collaborating with newer producers. Her honesty about her personal struggles, such as eating disorders in “Grapefruit” and the duality of love in the visualizer for “Cute & Cruel,” completes the experience of the album with a bow on top. May Tove Lo’s creative vision reign free till the end of time.